Magic Johnson is an American retired professional basketball player and former president of basketball operations of the Los Angeles Lakers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Similarly, he played point guard for the Lakers for 13 seasons. After winning championships in high school and college, Johnson was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the Lakers. He won a championship and an NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award in his rookie season, and won four more championships with the Lakers during the 1980s. Johnson retired abruptly in 1991 after announcing that he had contracted HIV, but returned to play in the 1992 All-Star Game, winning the All-Star MVP Award. After protests from his fellow players, he retired again for four years, but returned in 1996, at age 36, to play 32 games for the Lakers before retiring for the third and final time.
Earvin Johnson Jr. was born in Lansing, Michigan, the son of General Motors assembly worker Earvin Sr. and school janitor Christine. Johnson, who had six siblings (and three half-siblings by his father’s previous marriage), was influenced by his parents’ strong work ethic. His mother spent many hours after work each night cleaning their home and preparing the next day’s meals, while his father did janitorial work at a used car lot and collected garbage, all while never missing a day at General Motors. Johnson would often help his father on the garbage route, and he was teased by neighborhood children who called him “Garbage Man”.
Although Johnson was recruited by several top-ranked colleges such as Indiana and UCLA, he decided to play close to home. His college decision came down to Michigan and Michigan State in East Lansing. He ultimately decided to attend Michigan State when coach Jud Heathcote told him he could play the point guard position. The talent already on Michigan State’s roster also drew him to the program.
Johnson did not initially aspire to play professionally, focusing instead on his communication studies major and on his desire to become a television commentator. Playing with future NBA draftees Greg Kelser, Jay Vincent and Mike Brkovich, Johnson averaged 17.0 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game as a freshman, and led the Spartans to a 25–5 record, the Big Ten Conference title, and a berth in the 1978 NCAA Tournament. The Spartans reached the Elite Eight, but lost narrowly to eventual national champion Kentucky.
Professional playing career
Johnson was drafted first overall in 1979 by the Los Angeles Lakers. Johnson said that what was “most amazing” about joining the Lakers was the chance to play alongside Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the team’s 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) center who became the leading scorer in NBA history. Despite Abdul-Jabbar’s dominance, he had failed to win a championship with the Lakers, and Johnson was expected to help them achieve that goal.
Lakers coach Jack McKinney had the 6-foot-9-inch (2.06 m) rookie Johnson, who some analysts thought should play forward. He became a point guard, even though incumbent Norm Nixon was already one of the best in the league.
Post-Olympics and later life
Before the 1992–93 NBA season, Johnson announced his intention to stage an NBA comeback. After practicing and playing in several pre-season games, he retired again before the start of the regular season, citing controversy over his return sparked by opposition from several active players.
Johnson said that despite the physical, highly competitive practices and scrimmages leading up to the 1992 Olympics. Some of those same teammates still expressed concerns about his return to the NBA. He said that he retired because he “didn’t want to hurt the game.”
Basketball executive career
On February 21, 2017, Johnson replaced Jim Buss as the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers. Under Johnson, the Lakers sought to acquire multiple star players. And cleared existing players, including future All-Star D’Angelo Russell, off of their roster. Likewise, that was in an attempt to free up room under the league’s salary cap.
The franchise reached an agreement with free agent LeBron James on a four-year contract later in 2018. But efforts to trade for Anthony Davis during the 2018–19 season proved unsuccessful. The Lakers did not reach the playoffs during Johnson’s executive tenure. In an impromptu news conference on April 9, 2019, Johnson resigned from the Lakers. And citing his desire to return to his role as an NBA ambassador.
Johnson first fathered a son in 1981, when Andre Johnson was born to Melissa Mitchell. Later, in 1991, Johnson married Earlitha “Cookie” Kelly in a small wedding in Lansing. And that was which included guests Thomas, Aguirre, and Herb Williams. Johnson and Cookie have one son, Earvin III (EJ). He, who is openly gay and a star on the reality show Rich Kids of Beverly Hills. The couple adopted a daughter, Elisa, in 1995. Johnson resides in Beverly Hills and has a vacation home in Dana Point, California. Moreover, Johnson is a Christian and has said his faith is “the most important thing” in his life.
Media figure and business interests
In 1998, Johnson hosted a late night talk show on the Fox network called The Magic Hour. But the show was canceled after two months because of low ratings. Shortly after the cancellation of his talk show, Magic Johnson started a record label.
Magic Johnson Music signed R&B artist Avant as its first act. Johnson also co-promoted Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour through his company Magicworks. Further, he has also worked as a motivational speaker. And was an NBA commentator for Turner Network Television for seven years. Likewise, that was before becoming a studio analyst for ESPN’s NBA Countdown in 2008.
In 905 NBA games, Johnson tallied 17,707 points, 6,559 rebounds, and 10,141 assists, translating to career averages of 19.5 points, 7.2 rebounds. And 11.2 assists per game, the highest assists per game average in NBA history. Johnson shares the single-game playoff record for assists (24), holds the Finals record for assists in a game (21). And has the most playoff assists (2,346). He is the only player to average 12 assists in an NBA Finals series, achieving it six times. Similarly, he holds the All-Star Game single-game record for assists (22), and the All-Star Game record for career assists (127).
- Full Name: Earvin “Magic” Johnson Jr.
- Date of Birth: August 14, 1959
- Age: 60 years
- Birth Place: Lansing, Michigan, United States
- Nationality: American
- Listed height: 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)
- Listed weight: 220 lb (100 kg)
- High school: Everett (Lansing, Michigan)
- College: Michigan State (1977–1979)
- NBA draft: 1979 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1st overall
- Selected by: the Los Angeles Lakers
- Playing career: since 1979–1991, 1996, 1999–2000
- Position: Point guard
- Spouse: Cookie Johnson (m. 1991)
- Children: EJ Johnson, Elisa Johnson, Andre Johnson
- Number: 32 (Los Angeles Lakers / Point guard), 33 (Michigan State Spartans men’s basketball / Point guard)
- Net Worth: $600 million
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